Monster Island (2 stars)

Monster Island

Ghoulish, largely uninspired Mexican animation that at least improves as it goes along

Hollywood studios so dominate the feature animation market you wonder why anyone else tries to compete. Mexican production Monster Island seems determined to capture a share of the pie with a film that initially feels very American and very conventional.

13-year-old Lucas (voiced by Phillip Vasquez) is a typically nerdy teenager, bullied at school, resentful of his strict dad Nicolas (Roger L Jackson) and desperate to attend a really cool Halloween party. It is a Carrie-style act of humiliation at the party that prompts Lucas to unleash his inner beast (think the Incredible Hulk) and forces his father to confess that they belong to a family of monsters. The daily use of a seemingly innocuous inhaler is the only thing that keeps them human.

In the early stages of Leopoldo Aguilar's film the uninspired, computer-generated animation seems designed to draw attention to itself. Characters are all sharp edges, right angles and blank expressions and the camera glides as if exploring new levels of a computer game. Interest picks up as Lucas goes in search of other family members and heads through uncharted waters towards Monster Island. The story also perks up as it enters territory somewhere between Teen Wolf and Scooby-Doo and the visual side improves as the various creepy crawlies and spooky creatures appear to be the result of experiments by Doctor Moreau. Naturally, there are back-story personal issues for Lucas and a cackling family member destined to play the pantomime villain.

Manic, simplistic and never especially funny, Monster Island is a plucky attempt that is unlikely to cause any sleepless nights for Despicable Me 3 or Captain Underpants. However, the ghoulish tone might just make it a primer for younger viewers hoping to graduate to the worlds of Tim Burton and Henry Selick.

General release from Fri 21 Jul.

Monster Island

  • 2 stars
  • 2017
  • Mexico
  • 1h 20min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Leopoldo Aguilar
  • Cast: Fiona Hardingham, Roger Jackson, Jenifer Beth Kaplan

Manic, simplistic and never especially funny, Monster Island is a plucky attempt that is unlikely to cause any sleepless nights for Despicable Me 3 or Captain Underpants. However, the ghoulish tone might just make it a primer for younger viewers hoping to graduate to the worlds of Tim Burton and Henry Selick.

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